Saturday, November 3, 2018

Adventures in Banking

So last week I deposited a total of four Canadian cheques. Three of them were in Canadian dollars, and one in American. They didn't all arrive at the same time, so I had to deposit them in two goes.

First two cheques come, both in Canadian funds. I deposit them and the teller takes maybe 20 minutes figuring out how to do the deposit. No big deal, things eventually get going the right way.

Second two cheques come and the teller (a different one this time) seems to know what she's doing. She deposits the one Canadian one using the weird procedure, and deposits the one in American funds directly, the latter being on the order of $60k.

Monday this week I go to drop off an escrow cheque for about $38k at the title company, and before I do I double-check my bank balance to make sure I have enough available funds cleared, and it's showing something like $57k available of the total amount I have in the account. No problem. I drop off the cheque and go on my way.

Later that day I check my account again to see if the cheque has been cashed already, and lo and behold my available funds has gone negative!

I get on the online live-chat with my bank and the rep doesn't seem very helpful, and just thinks that I tried to deposit a bad cheque. Excuse you, but the cheque is perfectly fine. He can't actually help me though and directs me to call the cheque fraud department. I call the number he gives and navigate through a voice menu for about 5 minutes before landing on a "we're closed for the day" message. Thanks. Couldn't have told me that a little sooner in the call.

The next day I drop by the bank branch in person to try to get to the bottom of things. The branch manager is out for a few days so I end up talking to one of the ordinary staff, and she tells me that the second teller had made an error trying to directly deposit the $60k American cheque, and reversed the deposit to send it out to be processed the slow way. Unfortunately that reversal came out of the available funds rather than the held funds, which is what put me into overdraft. To make matters worse the branch manager, who was out, was the only one with the authorization to clear the holds.

Now I had also gone ahead and sold off my Google shares in my US investment account, and set up a wire transfer to drop those funds into my account immediately, but unfortunately those transactions take two days to settle before they clear, so that would be no help either.

Luckily some sort of stars align and just enough funds get released to allow the escrow cheque, as well as my monthly rent cheque, to clear. But I learned an interesting lesson: you can, by some manner of financial witchcraft, overdraft a bank account by making a deposit. Go figure.

The $60k hasn't reappeared in my account yet, but the bank assures me that it will once the cheque clears. I'll give them a week and poke them again if it's still missing, but in the meantime I have enough deposited to close on my house so it should be all good.


Unknown said...

Yeesh! I've always found my credit union tellers in Canada more competent than tellers elsewhere. It always amazes my American friends that they can send me an American cheque no problem, and indeed the tellers here don't blink twice. In North Carolina they were pretty clueless about what to do with Canadian cheques. I also has a teller in Germany insist on using the American exchange rate for my Canadian American Express travellers cheques. I did try to convince him, but gave up and took the better one rate.

Unknown said...

It took me several attempts to comment, my apologies if more than one shows up.

Tony Mantler said...

I get the feeling that the American tellers just never deal with anything but American transactions. Even around here where there's more foreigners than usual.

Unknown said...

Yeah, that was my impression too.